Will AI-generated content hurt my search engine results?

13 February, 2023

15 mins read

AI Content Generators Impacting Search Rankings

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When asked, “Does AI content hurt your Google rankings,” AI system ChatGPT said:

“No, AI content does not hurt your Google rankings. However, the quality of the content generated by AI is a factor that Google considers when ranking websites. If the content generated by AI is low quality or duplicated, it may negatively impact your website’s rankings. It is important to ensure that any AI-generated content is original, relevant and provides value to your website’s visitors.”

ChatGPT response to 'Does AI Content Hurt You Google Rankings'
ChatGPT response to, “Does AI content hurt your Google Rankings.”

But is it right? Will AI-generated content hurt your search engine results?

We found out exactly how Google feels about AI content in 2023, how AI-generated content impacts your search engine results and how you can use AI tools to help with your SEO content.

What does Google say about AI content?

In 2022, Google’s Senior Search Analyst & Search Relations Team Lead, John Mueller, said AI-generated content is considered spam to the search engine, and it doesn’t want to see it.

However, in late 2022 and early 2023, we’re seeing Google spokespeople saying it doesn’t matter who or what writes the content as long as the content is written for humans and meets all the needs of the reader.

So, it looks like ChatGPT was right on this one — almost.

John Mueller came out recently during a Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout and confirmed auto-generated content is against Webmaster Guidelines, so is considered spam.

“For us, these would, essentially, still fall into the category of automatically generated content which is something we’ve had in the Webmaster Guidelines since almost the beginning.

And people have been automatically generating content in lots of different ways. And for us, if you’re using machine learning tools to generate your content, it’s essentially the same as if you’re just shuffling words around, or looking up synonyms, or doing the translation tricks that people used to do. Those kind of things.

My suspicion is maybe the quality of content is a little bit better than the really old school tools, but for us it’s still automatically generated content, and that means for us it’s still against the Webmaster Guidelines. So we would consider that to be spam.”

In December, Mueller also said AI content assistants may be useful for generating new ideas, however, should not be used blindly in a copy-paste manner.

“I don’t know if AI is the right approach to making titles & descriptions, but if you’re running out of ideas, and especially if you see pages showing up in search for the wrong terms, it seems like a good way to get inspiration, or to try new things out. I would strongly discourage blindly following it though: you know your audience much better than any tool.

Have you considered adding a short survey for your visitors? “Which title do you think fits best for this page: A / B?”

So, will AI-generated content (like ChatGPT) hurt your search results? 

AI-generated content (like ChatGPT) may hurt your search engine results if you are using it in a copy-and-paste manner.

Essentially, when you put content into your website, Google doesn’t know if you, a freelancer, an agency, your spouse’s cousin or a piece of software wrote that content. It all comes down to if that content — regardless of who wrote it — meets Google’s idea of what is a valuable, quality solution to a search query.

Google’s Webmasters may or may not be actively seeking out ‘spam’ or AI-generated content online, but if they do find it on your website, they will mark this as spam and you will lose those rankings, which means losing traffic to your website.

So, long story short, using AI content generators won’t hurt your search engine results if you’re using them to support, not replace, your content strategy.

How to Use AI to Generate High-Ranking Content in 2023

1. Choose your preferred AI content generator.

ChatGPT may be all the rage right now in the media, but it doesn’t mean it is the only AI content-generation tool out there.

Some of the most popular AI content generators include:

Each has its pros and cons, and it also comes down to personal preference.

2. Learn how to best prompt an AI content generator.

AI tools aren’t magic (yet) — they do need you to tell them what you need. How you tell the tool what you need is actually very important for the results it produces, with some tools giving you prompt suggestions or filters, and others giving you just a chat messenger box.

The prompt you provide to AI tools depends on what you need. However, for the purpose of generating content, these are the top things to include in your AI content prompt:

  • Type of content. Do you need a social media caption, blog, web page content, etc.?
  • Target audience who will be reading the content. This will help the tool determine the level of language.
  • Goal of the content. Is the purpose of the content to educate, encourage enquiries, to entertain or something else?
  • Are there specific keywords you want used, an angle you want to take or data you want sourced? You tell AI and it should find it for you (within reason).
  • Advise the AI if you want a list of ideas or content written.

There are many, many prompts you can give an AI tool to produce content. You will even be able to feed in past blogs or writing to the AI tool for it to learn the style of writing if you’re so inclined.

3. Fine-tune your AI-generated content.

AI isn’t perfect. You may need to provide further prompts to get the exact ideas or content you’re looking for.

For example, did it neglect data about a topic you want included you couldn’t find yourself or perhaps didn’t give you enough ideas to find the one that sticks? Maybe the tone of the language isn’t quite what you were looking for and you need it to relax or tighten up the style.

In some AI tools, you can add additional prompts or further fine-tune filters to get more results. Some people even use AI-chat, like ChatGPT, to act as a conversation with the right prompts, which helps them see how someone may respond to a particular question. This can sometimes help branch out the content if you’re feeling it’s still not quite what you were looking for.

4. Source your data and quotes, including adding links.

ChatGPT and similar AI tools source their data from text files on the internet or in databases. This can be risky, particularly if you’re going to be re-using the information or data. Plus, you still need to source and quote where information or a statement is not your own.

This is where you need to do quality assurance checks on any quotes, stats or life-impacting information you’re sourcing through AI-content generators. This is not only so you know it is accurate, but so you can link back to or quote where a reference credit is due.

Internal and external linking is also essential for search engine optimisation. So, if you’re using AI tools to generate content that will rank, you need to still be linking to relevant web pages within your own website and that of others.

5. Review and edit the content generated.

The whole purpose of AI is that the software is built to replicate humans, right? However, it’s still not human. AI is to assist, not replace.

When using AI to generate high-ranking content for your website or quality content for social media (or other writing), you still should review and edit the piece to tailor to your audience. Most AI-content tools claim to create quality, unique content, however, this may still not be 100% there.

Even if it’s adding your twist or expert opinon about a topic, or adding a call to action, it all helps make that content more authentic and enjoyable for the reader and that’s what matters most to search engines.

In conclusion…

It is perfectly alright to use AI-content tools to help you gather ideas or build framework for content. There is still work involved to ensure your content ranks well online.

However, you also need to keep in mind, while content is king in the world of search engine optimisation, there are a lot of other players on the board. Your code needs to be in order, page load times need to be fast, the website needs to be secure, and so on.

If you have noticed your website visitors have decreased and you want to know why, chat to Localsearch about a free website audit. It’ll help you get to the bottom of your ranking problems. 

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